Julija Šukys

Julija Šukys (CNF) | Columbia, MO

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Julija Šukys (“Yuliya Shou-kEESE”) is a writer of creative nonfiction, an essayist, and the author of three books. Her 2017 book, Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning weaves together the two narratives: the story of Ona, noble exile and innocent victim, and that of Anthony, accused war criminal. Siberian Exile examines the stories that communities tell themselves and considers what happens when the stories we’ve been told all our lives suddenly and irrevocably change, and how forgiveness or grace operate across generations and across the barriers of life and death. Šukys’s 2012 book Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė tells the story of a Lithuanian librarian who saved many lives during the Holocaust in Lithuania by hiding people in the university library where she worked. Epistolophilia won the 2013 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Literature. Šukys is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Missouri.


Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning (University of Nebraska, 2017). CNF.
Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). CNF.
Silence is Death: The Life and Work of Tahar Djaout (University of Nebraska Press, 2007). CNF.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Siberian Exile

“All families harbor secrets. What if, in blithe innocence, you set out to research your family history, only to discover that your grandfather was guilty of the most heinous of crimes? Šukys pursues her tragic family memoir with courage and self-examination, often propelled to her painful discoveries by what she believes is a bizarre synchronicity. This is not a book written at a safe distance.”
—Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

“Riveting. . . . Beyond the historical and familial narrative, Julija Šukys ponders her own exile and her own complicity, allowing readers to do the same, comparing versions of selves and asking which version is truest, an impossible question, but one readers will find as enthralling as these pages.”
—Patrick Madden, author of Sublime Physick and Quotidiana


“Šukys’s. . .meditations on the power of letters and writing make this a powerful testament to the confluence of history and individual lives and passions.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Epistolophilia is not a typical biography, and Šimaitė was not a typical World War II hero. For readers looking for an unconventional account of the World War II and post-war eras, as well as those interested in women’s life writing, Epistolophilia is a nuanced and compelling work.”
ForeWord Reviews

“Šukys’s great respect for her subject inspires respect for her own book. ‘When I read [the letters]’ Šukys writes, ‘I feel as though she is speaking to me directly…’ And that’s also how readers of Epistolophilia feel, as though Šukys is personally telling us the story of this incredible, and incredibly important, woman over a cup of tea.”
Montreal Review of Books

“Šukys is to be commended for providing us with this testament and story of a little-known hero.”
Baltimore Jewish Times

“A startling paradox that while Simaite died at 76 before completing her memoirs, Sukys is able to capture Simaite’s story while successfully writing an unexpected memoir of her own.”
PLOP! Review

“Rather than use chronology as a guide, she divides her book into nine parts, each a satellite in the orbit that was Simaite’s world . . . . The technique works incredibly well, providing a full and revealing portrait of a heroic, principled if sometimes fractious woman whose life was marked by hardship and disappointment, but who left behind an invaluable archive: her own.”
The Montreal Gazette

“Šukys, in a true labor of love, rescues a remarkably brave woman from history’s dustbin, and in the process complicates the narrative about Lithuania during the Holocaust and the postwar period.”
Women’s Review of Books

“This is an intelligent, humane, and noble book that rescues from obscurity an intelligent, humane, and noble woman. It stands as a testament to the power of reading, writing, compassion, and extraordinary courage.”
— David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World

“This is an important new take on the legacy of the Holocaust. Eloquent and elegantly written, it reads like a W.G. Sebald text but with a voice profoundly its own.”
—Laura Levitt Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies and Gender, Temple University

“With this searching, nuanced biography, Julija Šukys introduces the English-speaking world to a genuine heroine of the Holocaust, while at the same time raising vital questions about the role of trauma, poverty, and ill health on women’s literary production. Thoughtful, exhaustively researched, and deeply felt, Epistolophilia is an important book.”
— Susan Olding, author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays

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